Oh, What a Lovely Trade War

Trump Maladministration

Tighten those belts, folks. The trade war officially began yesterday.  Martin Longman calls July 6, 2018 “a day that will live in infamy.” Catchy. Martin Longman continues,

Of course, the retaliatory tariffs are designed to do the most damage to Trump’s base thereby dividing the Republicans and eroding Trump’s position. Europe went after Kentucky bourbon and Harley-Davidson in a clear message to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. China is going after pork and soybeans as well as the automotive industry that is as important these days in Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana as it is in Michigan. In any case, those are all state that voted for Trump.

It’s hard to say how people will react. Will they really treat a trade war like a shooting war and rally around the president and the flag? That might happen. On the other hand, maybe a lot of people will turn on the president and his party when they feel a very direct sting from his policies.

Today, many eyes are on Iowa. Ed Kilgore writes,

Now maybe something will soon happen to mitigate the damage. But it’s also entirely possible that [Iowa Gov.] Terry Branstad has about as much control over collateral damage to Iowa from Trump’s trade policies as you or I have, and that all those confident assurances Iowans were receiving from Washington were just Trumpian hype associated with the belief that Beijing would fold its hand, leaving POTUS as the undisputed master of global commerce. The grim reality is otherwise. China buys at least 60 percent of the Iowa soybean crop. The pain will only get worse if harvest time comes along with the trade war still raging, and there’s no particular reason to think it will be quickly resolved.

Tom Philpott writes at Mother Jones that prices for the two biggest crops in the U.S., corn and soybeans, began falling in May.

After putting its trade beef with China on hold for a few weeks, the administration suddenly reiterated its tariff threats, and added Mexico, Canada, and the European Union to the mix. China is by far the biggest buyer of exported US soybeans; Mexico holds that position for corn.

The current slide comes at a precipitous time for US farmers. They have about 179 million acres of the two crops growing in their fields—a combined land mass equal to nearly two Californias, and just 1 percent less than last year’s plantings. To make a profit on these crops, farmers will have to make at least $4 per bushel on corn and $10.05 on soybeans for the 2018 harvest, a University of Illinois analysis found. Currently, the two commodities fetch $3.43 and $8.40, respectively.

Lots of stories note that farmers in South America are planting lots of soybeans in hopes of selling them to China. North American farmers could permanently lose major markets.

There is talk of a big bailout for agriculture if the damage is as bad as it looks.

But Trump, who has attacked Harley-Davidson for plans to move some production to its overseas plants to avoid retaliatory European tariffs, is looking to save “my farmers” from the trade war he launched. Rural support was critical to his presidential victory. Unhappy farmers could spell trouble for midterm elections.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last month at a Chicago convention that the Commodity Credit Corporation is a “tool” he’s considering to comply with Trump’s instructions to “craft a strategy to support our farmers against retaliatory tariffs. The program, which was started to help farmers during the Great Depression, allows the Agriculture Department to borrow as much as $30 billion from the U.S. Treasury that could be used to buy crops from farmers that would go unsold in a trade war.

However, politicians on both sides of the aisle express unhappiness at a bailout. And they doubt even $50 billion would be enough.

Salt Lake Tribune

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What’d I Miss?

Trump Maladministration

Done traveling. Scott Prutt being replaced by an oil industry lobbyist. Not exactly progress.

This time last year, Andrew Wheeler was a registered lobbyist working for the interests of one of the country’s largest coal-mining companies and a major uranium mining companyStarting Monday, he’s expected to become the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, where he’s been deputy administrator since April. …

…But while Pruitt’s ethics problems compounded during his time in office, Wheeler’s potential conflicts of interest are embedded in his résumé. And he’s emblematic of a sort of political dynamic that has come under increased scrutiny in the last decade — a reverse revolving door, through which lobbyists and consultants join the government and regulate the people who used to be their co-workers. …

…Pruitt’s philosophy of narrow EPA powers and state-led environmental regulation was certainly friendly to the oil and gas industry, but he was not formerly employed by it. His lapses have largely come in the form of ethical pratfalls, banana peels that he put on the floor and slipped on in the course of duty. Wheeler’s potential to favor former clients, in contrast, is a part of him. …

…Meanwhile, according to an investigation published in March 2018, the Associated Press tracked 59 EPA administration staffers that had been hired under Trump and found that about a third had been lobbyists or lawyers for fossil fuel producers, chemical companies or other corporate clients. In June 2017, Public Citizen analyzed the backgrounds of 115 Trump nominees to sub-Cabinet roles; 25 were current or former lobbyists or corporate consultants, 26 were corporate lawyers, and 29 were current or former corporate executives. Not all of those people were being hired to regulate the industries they’d recently left, but some were.

Pruitt is profoundly screwy. No halfway intelligent person would have behaved as he did at the EPA who was not pschologically miswired, through and through. Just a couple of days ago reports came out that Pruitt had gone directly to Trump and asked for Jeff Sessions’s attorney general job. That’s more than plain chutzpah.

And then there’s this:

The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments, a current and a former agency official told POLITICO.

The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president, according to theofficials. They saidtop advisers to departing Administrator Scott Pruittare delaying its release as part of acampaign to undermine the agency’s independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals.

Andrew Wheeler, the No. 2 official at EPA who will be the agency’s new acting chief as of Monday, also has a history with the chemical. He was staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2004, when his boss, then-Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), sought to delay an earlier iteration of the formaldehyde assessment.

Kinda warms your heart, huh? Or maybe that burn you feel is something else.

Also, too, just reported by the Los Angeles Times:

The worst of this week’s heat wave hit Friday, bringing record-breaking temperatures, at least two brush fires and a good bit of misery to Southern California.

Even before noon, several places broke heat records for the day, including downtown Los Angeles, which hit 95 degrees, Burbank and Van Nuys. The San Diego County community of Ramona reached its highest recorded temperature — 112 degrees — by 11 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

It’s expected to get hotter in the afternoon, with the National Weather Service forecasting the high in downtown L.A. to reach 106, shattering the July 6 record of 94 degrees. In Woodland Hills, where the temperature hit 110 before noon, could peak at a scorching 117 degrees. Forecasters expect a record-breaking 115 degrees in Van Nuys and 106 in Long Beach.

See also Red-hot planet: All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week.

And we’ve got an oil lobbyist in charge of the environment. Grand.

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Who Gets to Be Angry II

Trump Maladministration

A little over three years ago I formulated the Anger Theorem, which is: The degree to which one is allowed to be angry, and at what, depends on how much power you have. The powerful can be as angry as they like, without criticism. But when those with less power are angry, they are condemned for it.

In the first “Who Gets to Be Angry” post I pointed out that right-wing white men are the only demographic in the U.S. allowed to display anger without social or cultural penalty. Right-wing white women are allowed to display anger if they are standing next to a white man who is angry about the same thing — call it ladies’ auxiliary anger. Otherwise, women who display anger are labeled “hysterical” or “whacky,” whereas a white man doing the same thing is “strong.” Men who are not white must also take care to be gentle of temperament, because right-wing white men have a pathological fear of black men displaying so much as mild pique. Or wearing hoodies.

Even white men can be slammed for anger if they are also “liberal” or “lefties,” although younger white guys generally aren’t used to being sensitive to the privilege rules and don’t hold back expressing themselves in angry ways. If there’s a big leftie demonstration, if somebody acts up and behaves badly it’s nearly always a young white guy.

Watch out for people who are enforcers of the anger rule, especially if they are on “your” side, because They Do Not Get It. Nancy Pelosi’s recent rebuke of Maxine Waters is an example. Rep. Waters didn’t call for violence; she called for confrontations. But she got slammed by Democratic leadership, including by Chuck Schumer.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Sunday she was surprised to see Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticize her for advocating to publicly confront Trump Cabinet officials, but noted that political leaders “will do anything that they think is necessary to protect their leadership.”

“You know, I was surprised at Chuck Schumer, you know reached into the other house to do that,” Waters said when asked by MSNBC host Joy Reid if she was surprised to see leaders in her own party criticizing her. “I’ve not quite seen that done before. But one of the things I recognize, being an elected official, is in the final analysis, you know, leadership will do anything that they think is necessary to protect their leadership.”

Yeah, Chuck, let’s not have a black woman’s back or anything. Gotta maintain that ol’ privilege.

So, white men (plus members of the ladies auxiliary) get to walk around with big guns, and that’s fine; if nonwhite men did exactly the same thing the Authorities would be calling out the National Guard to put them down. Well, you know how it all works.

Rep. Water’s calls for confrontation have been blown up by the Right as calls for physical violence. The Right, known for lacking a gene that enables appreciation of irony or hypocrisy, responded with death threats to Waters. And Chuck and Nandy throw her under the bus. Grand.

And then this happened:

President Trump on Sunday blamed his opponents for the division in the country, warning that those who have spoken out against him should “take it easy.”

Trump appeared on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” where he was asked about recent incidents in which celebrities cursed him out and protesters demonstrated against members of his administration in restaurants and public spaces.

“I hope the other side realizes that they better just take it easy,” Trump said.

“Because some of the language used, some of the words used, even some of the radical ideas, I really think they’re very bad for the country. I think they’re actually dangerous for the country,” he added.

Translation, in the minds of wingnuts: It’s okay to shoot liberals (and racial minorities) on sight.

Charles Blow:

Trump is exhausting our mental capacity for indignation. This does not help Trump in the eyes of most Americans, to be sure. The Resistance remains strong and will likely have an impressive showing in the November elections.

But, along the margins, where both support for Trump and objections to him are soft, his tactics may have greater impact.

Not to mention the fact that those tactics keep his base riled and ready. Trump is like a drug dealer who has addicted his followers to fear and rage and keeps supplying it in constant doses. His supporters have become rage-junkies for whom he can do no wrong.

Anger doesn’t appease anger. Anger doesn’t do anything constructive, frankly. But we’re past the point that there’s anything to be gained by tip-toeing around right-wing anger to not set it off. They’re angry that we can breathe.

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Keep Talking

Trump Maladministration

I’m at my daughter’s for most of this week. Just keep talking among yourselves for now, thanks.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 28: Rally signs at The Women’s March LA Rally for Families Belong Together – A Day of Action at Los Angeles City Hall on June 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)


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A Toxic Man

Trump Maladministration

The Capital Gazette put out a newspaper today.

Yesterday’s shooter, Jarrod W. Ramos, had been waging a feud with the newspaper since an article published in 2011 described how he had been stalking and harassing a local woman. Ramos sued the newspaper for defamation, but the judge in the case dismissed it, pointing out that everything written in the article appeared to be true. He’d been issuing threats against the paper and its staff from time to time since.

So, once again, we see a man’s fanatical, entitled grievance fueling a mass shooting. And this syndrome is interconnected not just to misogyny and the gun culture, but to Trump support and terrorism around the world generally.

I’ll be traveling today and won’t be able to communicate.  Do talk among yourselves about whatever is happening.


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Dems Get a Memo

Trump Maladministration

Rep. Joe Crowley of New York’s 14th Congressional District was apparently too busy setting up his challenge to Nancy Pelosi’s speakership to defend himself against a primary challenge, and he lost the nomination to a Bernie Sanders socialist.

Crowley, who is chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, had never faced a serious primary challenge in any of his 10 previous elections. But Ocasio-Cortez picked up steam in the 14th Congressional District by channeling progressive dissatisfaction with New York’s Democratic establishment. She tied Crowley (not unfairly) to Wall Street and real estate interests and argued that it was time for the overwhelmingly non-white district to be represented by someone like her, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx.

The Young Turks had also called Crowley a “Big Pharma favorite.” But to be fair, Crowley had signed on to “Medicare for All.” He wasn’t quite as oblivious as Nancy Pelosi. Still, there was one article that spelled our why Crowley represented what’s wrong with the Democrats. See Crowley’s loss leaves gaping void for next generation of Democratic leaders.

Crowley’s loss drew immediate comparisons to the stunning upset of Eric Cantor (R-Va.) four years ago when he was the sitting House majority leader and lost to now-Rep. Dave Brat (Va.) in the GOP primary.

But, in that instance, House Republicans had several other young lawmakers who had the standing and support to rise into top posts, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who was waiting in the wings for another year to take charge.

Crowley, 56, despite being in his 20th year in office, was considered a relative newcomer to Democratic leadership circles because the other three have been at the top since early last decade, longer than most House Democrats have even served in Congress.

There’s Nancy Pelosi, 78, the California Democrat who has served four years as speaker and is in her 12th year as minority leader; Steny H. Hoyer, 79, the Maryland Democrat who is in his 16th year serving as Pelosi’s top deputy; and James E. Clyburn, 77, the South Carolina Democrat who has been the No. 3 leader for a dozen years.  …

… Pelosi and the other 70-somethings have been in something close to a staring contest over who would retire first and open the door for one of the others to take the top reins, all while the rank-and-file Democrats grew increasingly anxious about the line of succession amid a string of election defeats and disappointments.

Crowley is younger than I am, but he’s still a balding, gray-haired, chubby white guy with little apparent charisma. If that’s the best Democrats can offer in the way of the “next generation of Democratic leaders,” this is a problem.

In social media one perpetually comes across discussions of who should be the democratic nominee in 2020, and it’s nearly always the same few names that have been around forever, like Joe Biden. I like Joe, but he’s a relic of the past at this point. Why don’t the Democrats allow young lawmakers to rise to the top posts? The Dems seriously need newer, and more diverse, faces to represent them if they are going to win the trust and loyalty of younger voters.

Did Crowley’s loss amount to a wake up call? James Hohmann wrote,

Just like loathing of Barack Obama kept Republicans united in 2014, disgust with the president will keep Democrats together going into the fall elections. But make no mistake: The party’s identity crisis will be front and center after November, especially if Nancy Pelosi steps down or gets dislodged as the leader of House Democrats. The internecine conflict could become all-consuming in the free-for-all nominating contest to take on Trump in 2020 and cause a leftward lurch that helps the president win reelection.

This is bullshit. Ossified Democratic leadership is the cause of the “identity crisis,” and if the party doesn’t start to lurch left, good luck turning the young folks out to vote. As Dylan Scott says, Maybe Democrats should stop being afraid of the left.

Anyway, congratulations to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sounds like just what the Dems need.

Elsewhere: In a ruling even worse than the Muslim ban atrocity from yesterday, SCOTUS nixed public sector unions.

On the plus side, a judge has given Trump 15 days to reunite parents with the young children he took away from them, and 30 days to return older children.

Satellite images revealed that North Korea has been continuing to upgrade a major nuclear reactor since the Singapore Summit. What? You mean Kim lied to Trump? Who would have imagined that? No reaction from Trump yet.

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Forget the Norms

Trump Maladministration

Of course I’m disappointed with the SCOTUS ruling upholding Trump Muslim travel ban. But I can’t help but remember that President Obama, having nominated a moderate to the Supreme Court, did nothing to fight the Congress that stole the nomination from him. Even if he sincerely believed there was no way Trump was going to beat Clinton, why would he have thought that a Republican Congress would be any less obstructionist to Clinton than to him? I realize there’s a lot to be said for maintaining “norms,” but where are those “norms” now?

We can’t look to courts to save us and America. The Right has done too good a job of getting its people appointed to the courts. And it’s also the case that we can no longer look to “norms” to save us.

For a long time the reality has been that Democrats, on the whole, respected the norms while Republicans did not. The Right has counted on the indulgence of the Left to continue to undermine democracy. When I say “indulgence” I mean the reluctance of elected Democrats to firmly counter nonsense like Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow the Senate to consider the Merrick Garland nomination.

So time and time again, Republicans behave badly, and Nancy Pelosi gets in front of a camera and sputters about it, but nothing is done. Somebody has to follow the norms or everything falls apart. So the Left remains unilaterally disarmed.

At this point it’s gotten so bad that even George Will is telling people not to vote for Republicans. David Brooks got his ossified brain out of the attic and coaxed it into a few thoughts about the difference between conservatism and the Republican Party. Whether either of these, um, people realize the degree to which they helped create the current crisis is unlikely, but at least they seem to have found a line they couldn’t cross.

They must feel like people who spent their lives saving for and building their dream house, but then realizing too late they foolishly built on a flood plain. And it’s all washing away.

I was at least gratified to read an article at the Weekly Standard, of all places, that acknowledges the Right played a role in breaking down the norms. After quoting an article at the Federalist in which some whackjob seriously suggested taking liberal scalps. From the Federalist:

So, back to scalping thing. When you make that long trek to the reservation the leftists have set up for you—and make that trek you will—what memories do you want to take with you? When living in the liberal utopian nightmare of 57 genders and government control over everything in your life, you will want to have been a Lakota. You’ll want to know, to remember, even just cherish the knowledge that, one day, you rode out onto the plains and made them feel pain.

To which the Weekly Standard writer answered (to my astonishment),

I would tell you, Fred Thompson-style, that this sort of talk will eventually get someone killed, but perhaps you’ve forgotten about Heather Heyer. You shouldn’t have.

No, none of us should have. Blood is already in the streets. We must not forget that.

After I published yesterday’s blog post about civility, Charles Pierce wrote this:

For the benefit of those people also living in Fred Hiatt’s Land Without History: abortion providers have been stalked. Their children have been stalked. Their places of business have been vandalized. And, lest we forget, doctors who perform abortions have been fucking killed! They’ve been gunned down in their clinics, in their kitchens, and in their churches. They have not been allowed to live peaceably with their families, Fred, you addlepated Beltway thooleramawn. They haven’t been allowed to live at all. I’m no expert, but I’m fairly sure that a bullet in the head is far more uncivil than a complementary fucking cheese plate. What is wrong with these people?

I’m old enough to remember the raucous town halls of 2010, when the AstroTurfed forces of the Tea Party shouted down members of Congress while men with automatic weapons strolled around the perimeter of arenas in which the President of the United States was speaking. I’m old enough to remember when N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of The Civilizing Forces, was working out his Universal Lexicography of Insult for the benefit of a party that ate it up with an entrenching tool. Newt also emerged on the electric Twitter machine over the weekend, leaping to SarahHuck’s defense, and that was nearly enough to make me give up English as a hobby.

You know who would’ve been baffled by this sudden debate over “civility”? Samuel Adams and John Hancock, that’s who. They were a helluva lot less civil to the crew of the Dartmouth than Stephanie Wilkinson was to the Sanders party, and the citizens of Boston did not comp Thomas Hutchinson to a cheese plate when they ran his sorry ass across the pond. And, who knows, maybe if Elliott Abrams had been chased out of a few DC bistros in the 1980s, Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American nuns would still be alive.

This debate is stupid. It’s also dangerously beside the point.

The Democratic Party has been in a state of pathological denial about the dangers we face from right-wing extremism. They still seem to think a little better messaging and a couple of successful elections cycles will put everything back, right as rain. Most of ’em probably still don’t get it, Maxine Waters being an exception.

Note that both Pelosi and Schumer have, in effect, told Rep. Waters to chill. Waters is being blasted because she called for the public shaming of Trump officials. She didn’t call for violence.

Paul Waldman wrote,

Just over three years after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president claiming that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, then proceeded to cut a swath of resentment, anger and hate across America, we’ve all become terribly concerned that a Democrat here or there has been uncivil to the people who work for this least civil of presidents. I can almost hear the cackles of glee from the White House.

It’s as though I stood outside your door for years blasting death metal through gigantic speakers at 150 decibels, and when you finally shouted, “Hey, keep it down!” I demanded that the police arrest you for disturbing the peace. Have we gone nuts?

Of course, the reason the Left gets penalized for incivility and the Right does not for much worse is that the Right punches down, but the Left punches up. We make the establishment nervous.

Update: Milo Yiannopoulos Encourages Vigilantes to Start ‘Gunning Journalists Down’

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Dear Right-Wing Snowflakes: Bite Me

Trump Maladministration

Nondiscrimination in public accommodations, housing and jobs is an important principle to liberals. It’s not an important principle to the Right, which has a long history of what we might call creative interpretation of the Constitution to find “rights” to discriminate, based on religion or a backward reading of “freedom of association.”

Last year White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders let it be known that the White House had no problem  with businesses hanging antigay signs that explicitly state they don’t serve LGBT customers. Perhaps the Red Hen restaurant should have posted a sign saying they don’t serve liars and hypocrites before Sanders went to dinner there. But if I could explain anything to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it would be that once you allow discrimination, you don’t get to whine when the hammer falls on you.

In short, either businesses get to discriminate, or they don’t. Make up your mind.

The American Right is largely made up of people who are incapable of understanding that the Golden Rule also works in reverse: What you want to be allowed to do unto others can also be done unto you.

Of course, systemic racism has allowed white people special privileges to discriminate racially, consequence free, for a long time.  But as those days are at least beginning to draw to a close, it might be argued that public shaming and shunning is just tough love to teach the slow-learning sots the value of antidiscirimination laws.

For example, recently Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican and knee-jerk Trump supporter, needed a police escort to leave a movie theater in Tampa because members of the audience were harassing her. (The film was Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which makes this story even better.)

Bondi was not happy.  “When you’re violent and cursing and screaming and blocking me from walking into a movie, there’s something wrong,” she said. “The next people are going to come with guns. That’s what’s going to happen.”

Maybe. But nobody with guns came after these people, who were caught on video screaming at a black family in a resort swimming pool in Tampa.

Dr. Covey Banks took to Facebook with her story of being harassed and racially taunted by a white family at Omni Orlando Resort while in the pool. It all started when Banks noticed a little girl crying to her mother about needing to use the rest room.

In her Facebook post, Banks recounted hearing the girl’s mother tell her daughter to just pee in the pool.

“The little girl was crying and begging her mother to take her to the bathroom. The mom started looking around we presumed for the bathroom, and we pointed it out to her … She started yelling ‘you don’t know what MY daughter is saying,’ ‘I’m taking her to the bathroom,’ ‘I was not telling her to pee in the pool (guilty conscience), etc. Figuring she was embarrassed because she got caught being nasty, we paid her no mind,” she stated.

But then the white family ganged up on Dr. Banks and her children and screamed racial epithets at them. When there’s violent cursing and screaming at people who are respectable patrons of the resort using the resort pool, there’s something wrong.

The altercation was being recorded by Dr. Banks’s neice. The matron of the white family tried to grab the phone out of the girl’s hand, and Dr. Banks grabbed the woman’s arm to stop her. In true redneck snowflake fashion, the white woman then declared she’d been assaulted.

Tampa police were not helpful. This is just what happens in Pam Bondi’s Florida, I take it. The Omni Orlando Resort refused to intervene and remove the rednecks from the resort. However, when the video of the altercation went viral, the resort issued an apology to Dr. Banks.

I agree with AG Bondi that it’s dangerous when people show up with guns, like this guy in Charlottesville last year.

But, you know, wingnuts are the ones who insist on being able to carry any firearm they like anywhere they want. They count on the indulgence of the rest of us, who really don’t get our jollies by intimidating people with scary-looking weapons. If the Left were as violent as the Right, we’d be having open warfare in the streets in this country. And on those rare occasions righties really are held accountable for their bad behavior, they feel soooo sorry for themselves.

Now we lefties are getting fingers wagged at us, and once again we’re being told to be civil. I’m all for civility, but it would be nice if the same standard of public decorum were applied to the Right as well. I never support violence, no matter who is perpetrating it. But as Josh Marshall says, “Many calls for civility are simply calls for unilateral disarmament from those protesting injustices and abuses of power.”

The Right doesn’t want civility, because they aren’t about to practice it themselves. They just want us to shut up.

Josh Marshall continues,

One might further note that it is simply too comical to be lectured about social decorum by a party whose members shouted “You lie” at a President during a State of the Union address and made Donald Trump their party leader. But even that is really beside the point. What does matter is where we draw the lines of what’s legitimate and what’s not. Most of the civility talk isn’t about any real red line, any boundary that is critical to the kind of free society we want to preserve and build. It’s more a wet blanket meant to tsk tsk legitimate protest and legitimate resistance to corrupt government, misrule and injustice.

And I say that if a baker can’t be compelled to bake a cake for a gay wedding, then a chef can refuse to cook for Sarah Sanders. And it wouldn’t be that difficult to make a freedom of religion case for that.

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Pardon the Appearance

Trump Maladministration

The site looks a bit freaky today because I was getting a malware warning, and the bleeping anti-malware company I had already just paid a bleeping $99 a couple of weeks ago to renew my annual subscription wanted another bleeping $180 to “clean” the site that they were supposed to be protecting. So I did it myself. Whatever I did wiped out most of the right sidebar and screwed up the masthead. But the site seems to work and I’m not getting the malware warning now, and it didn’t cost me any bleeping $180.  I’ll go back in and pretty it up again when I get some time. Do let me know if you are having any problems with the site, especially if they are new problems.

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Nikki Haley Says Those Other Countries Are Bad, and Other News

Trump Maladministration

Trump keeps lurching from one unforced error to another. Wednesday morning he was still playing his chicken game. Wednesday evening he’d changed his mind, saying he’d keep families together, but he insisted on a quick legislative fix. So congressional Republicans scurried around to ready a couple of bills to vote on.

But Thursday morning, before the Republicans could vote on anything, he’d changed his mind again. Trump — or his tweeting alter ego, Stephen “Seig Heil” Miller —  undermined the whole thing. He has noticed that passing stuff in Congress actually requires some bipartisan cooperation, which is an alien thing to him.

Tara Golshan at Vox —

And as if on cue, lawmakers seemed to suddenly hit the brakes on one of the two votes slated to take place on Republican-led immigration bills on Thursday: a “compromise” bill between House conservatives and moderate Republicans, and a conservative bill originally introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Neither proposal was designed to get any Democratic votes, and Republican House members are already preparing for both bills to fail on the floor.

Charles Pierce explains what happened to the bills:

On Thursday afternoon, there were two bills pending to address the crisis caused by the administration*’s cruel and boneheaded zero-tolerance policy on the southern border. One of them was a draconian bill, and the other a purportedly more moderate one backed by Ryan and his Keystone Kops leadership team.

The former got clobbered when it came to a vote. And then, when it was time for the latter to come up, the Freedom Caucus belfry came alive with bats, and Ryan had to postpone the vote lest he suffer yet another embarrassing loss.

There was a significant altercation between Ryan and Mark Meadows, leader of the House Freedom (for Troglodytes) Caucus.

Meadows is all up in Ryan’s grill, in the well of the House, in front of God, man, and Louie Gohmert. If someone had done this to Sam Rayburn, that person’s desk would be out on the sidewalk by the end of business that day. But, because Ryan is as terrible a leader as he is an economist, Meadows pretty much blows him off.

Today, Trump has decided that Republicans in Congress should stop “wasting their time” on immigration, but to wait until after the midterms.

“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump tweeted. “Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!”

Sure, guy, whatever you say. Meanwhile, the border is in chaos. Nobody seems to know what to do.

President Donald Trump’s administration was gripped by confusion on Thursday as agencies struggled to implement his executive order halting the separation of migrant families at the U.S. border.

At the heart of the problem was uncertainty about how to begin detaining families together and whether the government would make any effort to reunite parents still in the U.S. with children currently held in separate shelters or foster facilities.

The mixed messaging began Wednesday, just hours after Trump signed his order, when the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a statement saying one of its spokespeople “misspoke” in saying that children who were already separated would not be returned to their parents but rather processed as unaccompanied minors.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice took issue with a report that border crossers would no longer automatically be referred for prosecution — the central tenet of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” enforcement policy, announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The chaos followed the hasty development of the executive order in response to a growing public outcry over the separations, which resulted in even babies and toddlers being sent alone to shelters. Two people familiar with the process said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told only her inner circle about the executive order, keeping top officials at DHS — including those at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection — out of the loop.

Ed Kilgore:

It seems virtually none of the people responsible for implementing Trump’s executive order got any kind of advance notice it was coming. And more importantly, the practical implications of continuing a “zero tolerance” policy without separating kids from parents being prosecuted weren’t worked out at all. That became obvious today when border-control officials and the Department of Justice got into a public conflict with the Washington Post in the middle.

In brief, the Border Patrol informed WaPo “We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units,” but the Justice Department told WaPo that prosecutions were not at all suspended.

Of course, immigration isn’t exactly a new issue:

“Looking Backward” (Puck, January 11, 1893) This cartoon satirizes those immigrants and their descendants who have made it in America but would deny new immigrants the same opportunity.

Click here for more ironic images.


A United Nations report condemning entrenched poverty in the United States is a “misleading and politically motivated” document about “the wealthiest and freest country in the world,” according to the Trump administration’s ambassador to the world body.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized the report for critiquing the United States’ treatment of its poor, arguing that the United Nations should instead focus on poverty in developing countries such as Burundi and Congo. The U.N. report also faulted the Trump administration for pursuing policies it said would exacerbate U.S. poverty.

“It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America,” Haley wrote in a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday. “In our country, the President, Members of Congress, Governors, Mayors, and City Council members actively engage on poverty issues every day. Compare that to the many countries around the world, whose governments knowingly abuse human rights and cause pain and suffering.”

Yeah, the nitwit actually said that.

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